Monthly Archives: May 2010
Last year I wrote about the Portuguese wineries that have adopted QR codes on their wine labels. Recently, I have noticed more wineries adopting this cool new technology.
A quick refresher on QR codes for the uninitiated. QR codes are a very useful tool for pointing people to more information about your product. This is how it works. You take a photo of the QR code with your phone with a bar code reader and you are automatically taken to the web site that is embedded in the code. This only works with smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid phones, but these are the most popular phones these days, so a huge number of people now have this capability.
In the wine business this is particularly useful as people can be browsing a liquor store and read reviews about the wine. This is how the Portuguese winery, Cortes de Cima, has been using QR codes on their wine labels. Their QR code takes people to their Adegga page, a web site where people can read independent reviews and ratings of their wine.
In this recent article in The Drinks Business they talk about another Portuguese winery, Tagus Creek, who are now using QR codes on their wine labels. They are using the QR codes to point consumers to videos of wine tastings on their web site. The article also mentions a New Zealand wine called Insight that has just started using QR codes.
QR codes help build a bridge from the offline to the online world. Wouldn't you like to send every prospect who is considering purchasing your product to a special page on your web site where you can provide them with more information. QR codes allow you to do just that and forward thinking companies are starting to see their benefits.
I fully expect that by the end of this decade most products will have a QR code on their label. And like many innovations in label printing, the wine industry is leading the way. So next time you are at the liquor store take a close look at the labels. I expect you will see more and more QR codes on wine labels in the near future.
No, my headline is not backwards. It is no secret that alcohol consumption has influenced the work of fiction writers since man put pen to paper. And now, it seems, it is also working the other way around. Literature has inspired at least one graphic designer to create packaging that sells beer. American student Andrew Herwig's design for the fictional "Captain Ahab Lager" was recently featured on the blog Lovely Package. The beer labels and other packaging was inspired by the villanous character in Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick. Perhaps if Captain Ahab Lager had been around while I was an English Lit/Journalism major in college, I would have been more excited when Moby Dick showed up on my reading list. Or I might have at least have been inspired to slog my way through the entire novel vs. skimming it with the aid of Cliff Notes.
If you sell a retail product, whatever it is, you should be paying attention to Proctor & Gamble. They are the largest consumer products company on earth and they have the power to change the rules of the game.
Which brings me to the announcement by P&G last week of their Environmental Sustainability Scorecard. Unlike the Wal-Mart initiative that uses the "stick" approach by potentially punishing wayward suppliers, P&G have opted for the "carrot" approach that measures and rewards improvement over time. They are not as concerned as to where you are now regarding sustainability but rather what changes are you making in order to improve.
What I find interesting about the scorecard is that P&G are looking for innovative ideas from their supplier base. They want their suppliers to not only measure their carbon footprint but they also want them to share how they are doing this. Any interesting ideas that are adopted by P&G will be rewarded. With their thousands of suppliers P&G will have access to a huge number of sustainability ideas, all coming to them for free. That in itself is a smart move.
So what does this mean for small businesses who will likely never be a Proctor & Gamble? We all know that sustainable business practices are only going to become more important. Definitely within ten years and maybe within five, every small business will need to know their environmental footprint. Movements like this by P&G will become standard and customers will begin to demand it.
My advice is to play close attention to the P&G scorecard. I know we will be here at Lightning Labels. Even though we may never supply Proctor & Gamble, we want to become better environmental stewards. Initiatives like this one will help shine the light on sustainable business practices.
How P&G's sustainability scorecard affects you - The Converting Curmudgeon
P&G Launches Supplier Sustainability Scorecard - Environmental Leader
I am a big fan of the hit TV series Mad Men. What intrigues me most about the show is the window it provides into the advertising world of Madison Avenue in the 1960's. Then it was relatively easy to reach the masses with an advertising message. A print campaign (in newspapers and magazines) combined with some TV ads would ensure your product could be introduced to most Americans. Every day, we are getting further removed from that world. Last week, Richard Shear on his Package Unseen blog shared the dramatic impact this shift has had. Citing a new Nielson/Bases study that was reported in Ad Age, Shear discusses the awareness shift from TV to the retail store for new product information. In a survey conducted across six major industrialized countries (including the U.S.) the retail store beat TV as an awareness driver for new products by a 50% to 36% margin. What does this all mean? It means that your product packaging is actually becoming more important. I believe this trend will continue upwards. We have such a fractured media environment these days, with people spending less time watching TV, reading newspapers and magazines and listening to the radio, that it is difficult to get the message out about a new product. Consequently, consumers are spending more time in the retail store reading labels and learning about the products. So now, more than ever, you need high impact packaging. Your product label is likely the single most important advertising message you will ever create. If you are trying to place your product in retail stores and you are still printing your product labels on your own cheap inkjet printer it is time for a rethink. With digital label printing, high quality product labels are within the reach of even very small companies. The advertising executives on Mad Men would simply not recognize the media world of today. But they would appreciate the importance of product packaging. It was important in the 1960's and it is even more important today. Don't sell your product short. Make high quality product labels and packaging a priority. Your future business success may depend on it.
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Even though I was a big fan of John Elway (the former Denver Broncos quarterback) during his playing days I never thought he would make an appearance on the Lightning Labels blog. I was wrong. Since retiring from football after the 1999 Superbowl Elway has pursued a variety of business interests. Last year, this included an investment in Nude Vodka, a new ultra-premium sipping vodka. To celebrate this investment, the people at Nude Vodka organized an "Evening with Elway" contest for their Colorado customers. The way the contest worked is that every bottle of Nude Vodka sold in Colorado had a unique four digit number on the neck label. The owners of these bottles then had to register their information and bottle number of the Nude Vodka web site. Last week seven winning numbers were selected and the lucky winners will get to spend an evening drinking vodka with John Elway. What I like about this contest is that it is a very simple and inexpensive way to add value to a product with variable data label printing. All Nude Vodka did was print some neck labels with the variable data numbers and setup a page on their web site to collect information. Total cost for all this would likely have been just a few hundred dollars I expect. Best of all they now have a database of their customers in Colorado that they can market to in the future. Now, you might not be able to entice the services of a celebrity to promote your product but you can still use the same principles in your own marketing promotion. Everyone loves a giveaway, so put your thinking cap on and create a fun promotion. It can be a free product giveaway, cash, or a sought after item. I have noticed the iPad is a popular giveaway these days. At my old company I gave away a trip for two people to Australia (free airfare and accommodation) and that proved very popular. The simplest way to manage a promotion is the way the Nude Vodka people did it. Add some variable numbers to your product labels, add a sign-up page on your web site and you're done. Just be sure to market your promotion well so you get some good customer involvement. And of course, we will be happy to print your variable data labels for you.